Thursday, October 29, 2015

Weird and Wonderful New York


      It makes sense that the streets of New York become weird, mysterious and scary around Halloween.  That’s the case all over the country, but especially in the brownstones on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, people seem to be competing with each other to create the scariest haunted houses and yards complete with lights, sounds, and moving parts of the life-sized mummies, witches, skeletons and zombies. Walking Amalia to her school around Halloween begins to feel like being an extra in “The Walking Dead,” but now that she’s four, Amalia is happy hanging out with the neighborhood ghouls.

      But what I love about New York is that it’s full of weird, bizarre and unexpected sights all year round.  Every time I turn a corner I encounter something so strange that I pull out my camera to prove I really saw it, while the real New Yorker's don’t even blink or slow their stride toward the subway entrance.

"Everyone attending is guaranteed a message"

Above and below are  signs that I encounter every day on my way to pick up Amalia from school.

 Today I’m featuring some New York strangeness that is not necessarily seasonal.  In my next post I’ll focus on Upper East Side Halloween décor. (And on Halloween night itself, many of these elaborate, scary haunted houses -–decorated multi-million-dollar brownstones-- open their doors to all comers!)

     I found myself standing in line at a Dunkin Donuts behind this tattooed shoulder and arm.  I recognized those columns!  They’re from an ancient Roman temple in Baalbek, Lebanon, that I once photographed and later painted.  So I tapped the guy on the shoulder and said, “Is that Baalbek?” and he said it was.  Then I asked if I could take a photo.

       In September my friend Mary and I traveled by subway to Brooklyn to visit the Morbid Anatomy Museum, which describes itself as “Exploring the intersections of death, beauty and that which falls between the cracks.”  Besides being an avid collector of early and Victorian photographs (which often explore the same territory) I’m morbidly interested in traditions and superstitions surrounding death, so I found a lot to photograph there—reflecting the histories of taxidermy, medical practices, mourning customs, and just plain weird stuff. 

 Every table in the cafe held a bouquet of dead roses.

Two-headed duck and friends.
A devil (I think) and friends.

Taxidermy and pickled body parts.
       Don't know the purpose of this spooky doll in a suitcase.

       And on my way back from the Morbid Anatomy Museum, I couldn't resist photographing this Brooklyn front terrace, with a crowd of lawn ornaments that totally eclipses the single garden troll on daughter Eleni's balcony.  (But he does change his hat and garden pickings with the seasons.)

 Manhattan garden troll dressed for fall.

Next post: The Ghouls of Manhattan!

Monday, October 26, 2015

People Peering at Picasso

 "Bull's Head"
On October 16, with my sister-in-law Robin, I went to see the Museum of Modern Art's exhibit of Picasso's Sculpture (which is there until February 7, 2016.) 

The thing I like about Picasso is that he viewed the world around him with the mischievous, magical, and humorous eyes of a child.  I remember a delightful series of photographs of Picasso picking up a fish skeleton from his plate and playing with it, enjoying the sculptural qualities of the remains of his lunch.

"Woman in the Garden"

I'd never paid much attention to Picasso's sculpture before, but spending a couple of hours at this show is certain to make you smile and to view the objects you find in the trash in a new light.  The head of a bull at top is a piece Picasso crafted out of a bicycle seat and handlebars.  Wonder how much more that sculpture is worth now than the bicycle it came from?

 "Head of a Woman"
Picasso was forever stealing things from the trash or from the house to use in his sculpture--spoons, forks, tree branches, a watering can, stones and bones, a burner from a stove,  newspapers, gloves, tin plates, even absinthe spoons.  Up till the MOMA show I had never seen an absinthe spoon!

 "Head of a Woman"
I took lots of photos (no flash allowed) and when I looked at them later, I realized that my favorites were the ones that showed people in the crowd reacting to the sculpture.  Everyone was taking Picasso's humorous creations very seriously.  Whenever I go to an exhibition I usually spend as much time watching  the reactions of the viewers as I do looking at the art. 

 "Head of a Warrior"

This woman is scratching her head over "Goat Skull and Bottle".

 This lady with the red purse is intently studying "Woman with a Baby Carriage"

 and "She-Goat"

Vase, Bull, Owl and Owl and nice reflections

And a cluster of skinny women.

Go see it if you're in New York before Feb. 7!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Traveling in Greece with Babies and Grandparents

Eleni N Gage breastfeeding her newborn in Greece

When I planned a family trip to Greece for June, the last month of my maternity leave, I thought it was a stroke of Mommy Genius. I envisioned my parents babysitting our almost-four-year-old daughter and our just-two-month-old son while my husband, Emilio, and I enjoyed long dinners at outdoor cafés on the romantic cobblestoned streets of Corfu Town.

People told me I was crazy to travel with an infant, but I missed my cousins in Greece and wanted to visit while I was still on leave, so I wouldn’t use up my precious vacation time. With my parents along for the ride, I’d have plenty of help. And this wasn’t my first rodeo; I knew what I was doing. I got the baby’s two-month vaccines and made sure his passport arrived in time for the flights we’d purchased; with all that done, I figured I was in the running for Mother of the Year.

It wasn’t until we arrived on Corfu that I realized I had left the essential funnel/cone components of my electric breast pump at home in New York...

Eleni N. Gage is an avid travel writer and author of Ladies of Managua. Find out more about her global family travel adventures and beyond on her website.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Angels and a Menage å Trois in the Cemetery


Joan Ellen Gage said...
Fascinating! Did you find any Gages, as my Dad is a geneology fiend? We do have relatives in New England, especially.
by Joan Gage said...
Hi Joan Ellen! There were some Gages--I know a Dr. Gage was an important person about a century ago in Shrewsbury MA, near where we live, but since "Gage" is not really my husband's name (the real name is Greek and as a reporter he had to shorten it to get a by-line that fit in one column) and because it was raining pretty hard while I was in Rural Cemetery, I did not do a very good job of tracking down Gage tombstones.

civil war researcher said...
I loved the pics from Rural--the Crompton Mausoleum is very beautiful. A friend of mine was a family member and is buried outside of it on the grounds. When a family member dies and is buried there they open the mausoleum so you can pay respects to those buried inside and it interesting to see the interior.
over60andfabulous said...
How wonderful to find another blogger 60+ !! I am following - your pictures are lovely - my family has been here since 1776 & this is such an interesting topic. Thank you for sharing.
All the best, Mimi
by Joan Gage said...
Thank you to both Civil War researcher and Mimi, who's over 60 and fabulous! It's fun to meet friends who are as fascinated by cemeteries as I am.

Marie Sultana Robinson said...
My maiden name is Crompton. This is my family crypt. The faces of the angels are the women of my family. Yes, we used to open the crypt when we had funerals. Nearby are the Smiths which were part of the family as well. To most it's beautiful to me, it's a step into the past and family. Beautifully done pictures.
Marie Sultana Robinson said...
If you are researching the Civil War. George Crompton retooled the looms so they could manufacture the bolts of cloth to make uniforms. He was used as a model for the soldier in the Civil War monument downtown.